Category : Perspectives
Yes, I am well aware that Valentines Day is over. My floor is covered with the piles of torn envelopes and candy wrappers to prove it. Still, I couldn’t resist sharing the super fun Valentines Day project that we did for Caleb’s class. Enter Surprise Balls: rolls and rolls of crepe paper streamers that reveal tons of tiny goodies as you unwrap their layers.
Surprise balls aren’t just for Valentines Day. They make perfect party favors for any kind of celebration. We were first introduced to the concept before Christmas when my cousin Tammy sent a boxful that she picked up from a boutique in Denver. I stashed them out of reach until the big day, but that didn’t stop my kids from oogling those brightly colored balls of crete paper every chance they got.
Fortunately, the big reveal did not disappoint.
The only one who loved them more than the kids was Max the Cat.
Awwww. Look how tiny he was then. Seriously, ask my kids what the best thing was that they got for Christmas, and the surprise balls make the top two every time. (Max the Cat holds the number one spot, of course.)
As per usual, Tammy and I both looked at all of that Surprise Ball goodness and instantly said “I could do that.” She made hers for Hanukkah while I opted for Valentines.
The big question we both faced was how to get all of these little treats into those balls of fun while maintaining their round shape.
As I often do when faced with a crafting conundrum, I wandered the aisles of Hobby Lobby looking for an idea for forming the center of the balls. I had seen a few posts recommending those clear plastic Christmas ornaments, but when I did finally find them, they were a couple of dollars a piece, which would have raised the cost of the surprise balls beyond my budget. Finally, at the check out counter, I saw these little plastic zip lock bags.
Put your core gifts inside the bag, and blow it up a little before you seal it off. Tape down the corners, and you have a fairly round center to start wrapping.
Then you tuck your flatter items inside the layers of crepe paper as you wrap. Be sure and use multiple colors of streamers (just tape the end of one onto the beginning of the next one and keep going) as the changing colors seem to be a big part of the fun. When its reaches the size you are going for, seal it off with a sticker, and get ready to let the fun begin.
Happy Surprise Ball crafting!
Sea Lions in Love on Pier 39
Happy Valentines Day to all!
Meet Max – our Hypoallergenic Siberian Forrest Cat.
I’d love to tell that he usually looks more like this. . .
All regal and stately. But I’d be lying. Especially if there is anything in the vicinity that might pass for food. I wonder where he gets that from?
See that sweet tiny girl in the front row? That adorable angel who scattered all of those rose petals that I glided over twelve long years ago on my way to meet my prince? (Yes people, I do mean Dan even though he is not pictured. And yes, that skinny blonde in the big white dress really is me.)
Well, my friends, her name is Kourtney and here she is – all grown up.
I mean high heels and prom dresses grown up. Not the kind that is going to land you on the cover of People magazine in the middle of a national debate on Toddlers and Tiaras, but the beautiful, appropriate, kind of grown up that occurs as a teenage girl begins to cross that line into lovely young womanhood.
This girl is the real deal, and she graciously offered to round up a friend and come spend and afternoon in and around my studio while I figured out what exactly I could offer high school seniors looking to capture the magic of their senior years for posterity. We covered a variety of looks from formal wear in studio to boots and jeans in the alley behind Eno’s, and everything in between. And we had a ball doing it.
So that got me thinking. . . what is so special about senior year, anyway?
Its about friends.
Its about dreams,
and, ultimately, about saying goodbye.
I guess its about books and homework and college applications, too, but those things don’t actually make for very fun photographs, so I opted to skip that part. Photographer’s prerogative. Check out the entire shoot below, and see of you think we captured the rest of it, anyway.
You know you have officially started back to school when the teacher asks you to write, or in the case of younger children draw, what you did during your summer vacation. We’ve been back in school three weeks now, as I sit by my open window enjoying the rare treat that is a cool breeze, its the first day that has really felt like fall to me. And so, I find myself reflecting on my Summer 2011.
Dan and I took our first trip alone together since the babies were born three years ago. We toured San Francisco and the Sonoma Valley wine country. I shot this boat on the side of the road on our way out to Sonoma. In Texas you might see an old truck or a broken down trailer, but seeing this boat was proof positive we truly were a world away.
Back home we grew a few strawberries,
and seemingly endless piles of tomatoes.
I drove kids to golf,
applied layers of sun block as they jumped in the pool,
and made homemade ice cream sandwiches.
We visited Colorado’s Garden of the Gods at sunset. . . Twice.
Because my daughter enjoyed it so much the first time.
I shot this photo, that I love for its composition and directness,
and this one that I love because it just oozes friendship and summer fun.
I waged countless battles with one stubborn Boogie,
trying to make the most of his terrible twos. (All I wanted to do was take his picture!)
And I prayed that God would remind me that two turns into eight
in the blink of an eye.
So, while summer 2011 may go down in the record books as Dallas’ hottest (ie most miserable) in history, it was, in my book anyway, a blessed time of growth and joy for which I am truly thankful. Now back to our regularly schedule program (ie supervising homework).
As a kid, there was nothing I loved more than walking up and down the aisles, filling our cart with shiny new school supplies. And yes, I know exactly how dorky that makes me sound. But are you seriously trying to tell me that you didn’t get just a little thrill from picking out the perfect Trapper Keeper? How about from opening a brand new box of crayons? And then there was the pencil box. I get a little dreamy just thinking about.
Today’s back to school lists are a bit more daunting than those we received in the ’70s and ’80s. It takes more than a couple of boxes of Kleenex and a No. 2 pencil to attend free public school these days. Just glancing at DISD’s lists, I’d say there is over $50.00 worth of stuff on there, and that is not counting a backpack. Multiply that by two or three kids in a given family, and it is no wonder that there are those in our community that don’t look forward to back to school shopping.
Yes folks, it should be no surprise that poverty is alive and well right here in North Oak Cliff. We see the homeless on our streets everyday, and our hearts go out to them, particularly in this unrelenting heat. What we don’t see daily, however, is the need of our community’s children and families which, while perhaps behind closed doors, is just as real.
Enter the Goslin Opportunity Center. While Marsha Mills and her tireless group of volunteers continue to meet the emergency food requirements of those in need across a five zip code area, they have also registered 308 deserving children to receive school supplies at a Back to School Bash on Saturday August 20th. That’s a lot of pens, pencils and crayons folks, and as of last week, donations were way down.
The good news is the North Oak Cliff and Cliff Temple communities have rallied and, as of this morning, we had nearly 80% of what we will need to fill the kids lists. As long as 151 boxes of washable markers, 91 boxes of map colors, 116 pairs of scissors and 309 pocket folders find their way to Goslin this coming week, it looks like we will be able to meet the basic supply needs of our kids.
What we don’t have are backpacks, and while they may not be a required item on some school lists, can you imagine a child going to school without one? Me either. So today, instead of buying a fancy new PB Kids backpack to replace last year’s fancy PB Kids backpack that is still in great shape, I took my big boy to Walmart where he picked out three nice new backpacks for the kids in his neighborhood.
No. I didn’t actually let him buy that wrestling one.
How can we expect our community’s children to get the education that they must have in order to improve the outlook for their future, if we are not willing to supply the tools that they need to learn? We can’t. So brave the heat, go to Walmart or Target or wherever, and donate a backpack to Goslin. You can drop it in the atrium at Cliff Temple Baptist Church at 125 Sunset Ave., Dallas, Texas 75208. Or call me. I’ll get it there.
As of this morning they needed 238. Only 235 more to go!
By the time Grey’s Anatomy made “Seriously?” a household phrase, it had long been part of my daily vocabulary. You see, as luck would have it, I happen to be a class A, Charlie Brown type. You know, the one of those folks who always seem to get stuck under the rain cloud or in pursuit of that elusive football? The ones to whom every crazy unbelievable thing happens at once. Yep, that’d be me.
Let’s put it this way, if a six foot metal “No Parking” sign is going to fly through the air and leave a massive dent in someone’s mini van door at a stop sign in front of the church on a Thursday morning in November. . . you guessed it, that’s my van. And people, I know everyone says that they know someone who finally had a successful pregnancy just weeks after adopting a baby. But do you really? Know someone personally? Me either. Except me, of course.
It is, neither good nor bad, neither here nor there. It is, simply put, just the way I roll.
So, frankly, I was only moderately shocked to pull up to my house earlier this week to find a couple of fire trucks and a police car wrapping up work on what was, by all accounts, a pretty spectacular explosion and electrical fire that occurred in our backyard where the electrical service enters our house. This is the second such fire we have had in six years, a pure coincidence we are assured by independent electricians and the utility company, alike. While the truth of the coincidence theory remains to be seen, do you know ANYONE who’s electrical service has EVER exploded? Much less twice in a matter of years? Can I hear you say, “Seriously?”
[BTW we are extremely grateful to our amazing neighbors: one who called 911 and another who hopped the fence with a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. No one was injured, and little property damage was done. It would no doubt have been a very different story had it not been for our neighbors' vigilance in looking out for our interests as well as their own.]
The real zinger, however, came a couple of days later when we received an early morning call from the Lake Athens Water Authority. ”Good Morning. Ma’am. We found your boat floating upside down about a hundred yards north of your boat dock.” Seriously, Mr. Lake Cop? You had to lead with “Good Morning?”
What could possibly be good about a morning that is supposed to entail back to school shopping, and instead, involves countless long distance phone conversations: calls about leaking pumps that led to flooded cabins and snapped lift cables; calls about how you go about righting a completely waterlogged speed boat with a V8 engine that doesn’t seem to want to be righted; and, then, of course, calls about what exactly to do with it once you do.
It took our handyman and his myriad of helpers a day and a half in record heat to right our boat and haul it out of the lake and into the marine shop.
No surprise, no one we have spoken to has EVER heard of such a thing happening before.
Fire. . . Flood (well, sort of). . . and I don’t even want to think about what could be next. I hear this may be the year that the world’s largest brood of cicadas is coming to a town near you (or, more likely, a town near me). Anyway, I am nevertheless extremely grateful for the way things turned out, because fortunately, not a single person was injured in either crazy Roseveare incident this week.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for our dear Mariah.
And so we bid farewell to Mariah, our trusty water craft. She gave us ten solid years of smiles.
All three of my children took their first rides on her before their 1st birthdays to watch fireworks on the 4th of July. Dan and I learned everything we know about boating (which, I’ll admit, isn’t too terribly much) and a few good lessons about marital communication while navigating Lake Athens’ waters behind the wheel of that big red boat. And Caleb, he became a world class tubing machine.
When airplanes and motorcycles were well behind him, our Mariah was the last speedy thrill left to my Dad.
Good Bye, Sweet Mariah. You will be sorely missed.
We’re goin’ on a road trip. . . we’re goin’ on a road trip. . . what a beautiful day. . . I’m not scared. (Well, OK. Just a little.)
My children are 2, 3 and 7. In a few short weeks, they will be 3, 3 and 8. And so we will live, praying that no one asks me how old my kids are, for two months until Sister finally turns 4.
When your kids are that little, and as close in age as my babies, routine is your only lifeline. (Well, that, and half-doors on their bedrooms with padlocks.) Until recently, the prospect of upsetting that apple cart to travel with them has been unthinkable. We didn’t even venture out to our own lake house but once last summer. And it is only 1 hour and 25 minutes away, not to mention stocked with all of our required toiletries and toys. It was just too hard.
With the a couple of years of maturity and the help of a little vyvanse, however, things with the kids have gotten a little easier lately. So, always an avid traveler myself, I decided to ignore my trepidations and give road tripping with my kids a try.
Thirteen hours and one day later, we are in West Creek, Colorado on the shores of Pine Lake, enjoying dramatically cooler temperatures and the generous hospitality of my cousin – the One and Only Tammy Abramovitz.
And you know what? With a little planning (OK, enough planning to satisfy my inner OCD for a long, long time), it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I thought it might be. Look out cousin Kyra of South Padre Island, TX. We are coming to you next.
Despite her fear of heights and resultant intermittent discomfort in the mountains, my mother came with us on this adventure. Last night after she and the kids were finally asleep, I looked at my calendar and realized that today is the two year anniversary of the Kung Pow Chicken Incident, aka the single lowest point in my journey as a simultaneous caretaker of small children and older, sometimes infirm, adults.
What can I say? We really have come a long way, baby.
OK. I know I should get the World’s Worst Blogger Award for my paltry efforts this summer, but I had to at least share a pic of our latest our project – the Fascinator.
I have been too busy burning up the highways and biways of north, central and east Texas this summer to do much of anything, especially craft. Unbeknownst to me, I must have been suffering from some sort of major withdrawals. So naturally, when the babies’ preschool sent out a note last week that they would be having a 4th of July Parade. . . complete with a HAT CONTEST. . . I could barely contain myself.
This is, after all, the year that, thanks to Kate Middleton and that over the top Royal Wedding, the hat made its comeback. Well, not just any hat. The fascinator to be exact. From Dutchess Kate’s fabulous finds to Princess Beatrice’s hideous attempt at headgear, fascinators are all the rage . Even Beatrice’s fashion faux pax managed to make a $130,000 charitable comeback.
According to bellasugar.com, “fascinators are hair accessories, usually clips or pins with feathers, flowers, or lace. And they are everywhere these days, gracing the heads of celebrities, brides, and girls who love a little vintage flair on Saturday nights. Although they’re cool and trendy now, they’ve actually been around since at least the 18th century, when large feathered and beaded hair accessories were the height of fashion.”
They are also very British.
And so we made one. For the 4th of July. (Cue the irony.) And, if I do say so myself, it was precious.
Not to be outdone by his sister, Boogie got in on the act too.
Cute? No Doubt! But is it so wrong that I am partial to the Fascinator?
Maybe Sister will let me wear it to the picnic.
Have a Safe and Happy 4th of July ya’ll!
There are certain defining moments in a child’s life that, as parents, we both long for and dread: rolling over, crawling, first steps. We anticipate these steps as concrete evidence that our littlest ones are, in fact, actually going to be OK, and yet we eschew them because we know with each milestone our child becomes more independent, moving ever so slightly farther away from our protective grasp.
As children get a little older, those defining moments are fewer and farther between: potty training, starting Kindergarten, and of course, losing those training wheels. For the past couple of years, my oldest has struggled a little with that last one.
Santa brought Caleb a Trek when he was five, but it just never called to him. What can I say? He is his mother’s child, and as such, harbors a healthy fear of falling. I, for one, totally get that. Some risks are worth taking, but only when your desire for the the promised payoff is sufficient to overshadow the potential pain.
Example: I have zero interest in hang gliding, scuba diving, or skiing (of any kind) because, simply put, I do not have a death wish. However, give me a chance to ride an 18 hand Hanovarian (think VERY tall horse) that outweighs me by more than 1000 pounds and might spook any minute throwing me to my death, and I would saddle up in a heartbeat. It all comes down to that intensely personal analysis that is the fine balance of risk versus reward.
Until recently, as far as Caleb was concerned, bike riding was at most a take it or leave it proposition. Consequently, Santa’s Trek sat idle in our garage collecting dust until well after he had outgrown in. Over spring break, however, Caleb got bit by the bicycle bug (laced with a little peer pressure, I’m afraid), and just like that his need to ride overpowered his fear. Suddenly, a new bicycle was all he could talk about.
So, thanks to a really good run on Dan’s part at a black jack table in between meetings at a conference last weekend, we spent this Saturday morning at Bicycles Plus in Snider Plaza. Three kids bikes and all of Dan’s winnings later, and we were off to the races, so to speak.
I’ll have to admit, I was really nervous. Previous attempts to teach Caleb to ride had produced exponentially more tears than success. With another new bike in the mix, I knew we were going to have trouble if we couldn’t manage it this time.
Following the guy at the bike shop’s advice, we started with the seat low and the pedals off, letting Caleb just get the feel of balancing on the bike as he coasted downhill, feet close enough to the ground for a quick save. First five feet. Then ten. In no time he was begging us to put the pedals back on, and before I knew it, he was peddling his new bike across that empty parking lot. . . a bit wobbly and with a death grip on those handle bars, but still, he kept on peddling.
As I sat on the ground shooting this picture, I realized that, while I couldn’t be happier for his accomplishment, it managed to leave me a little melancholy too. This weekend we checked off one more stop on Caleb’s trek to adulthood, experienced one more triumphant moment we can never get back. It got me to thinking. Perhaps its time to spend a little less time worrying about this and that, and a little more time enjoying the ride.